Sunday, 19 April 2015

Black water

The ribbon has finally been cut on the new toilet and shower facilities at the marina. The portacabins we used over the winter during the work were OK. They were warm enough (when the heater was not turned off), big enough (just) and frankly they were better than nothing. The new building however is positively luxurious. We have underfloor heating, adjustable showers, hairdryers and lots of space. There are also things like heating control, motion sensitive lighting and water saving flushes; all of which are good news for saving energy and water.

The new facilities block
Marinas provide facilities not only to make sailors lives more pleasant but also to protect the environment. By providing nice, clean and convenient conveniences people are far more likely to use them than to release the raw sewage into the water. This reduces the potential harm to the environment, other water users and/ or the shellfish which are waiting to become someone’s sea-food supper.

The green-blue is a programme run jointly by the RYA and the British Marine Federation. It was set up to help water users preserve and protect the water environment. As well as providing information and advice to clubs and marinas it also gives practical advice to boat users and does a lot of research into environmental issues. They have done a lot of work promoting sustainable development and generally raising awareness of the issues of contamination, pollution and looking after the water.

The beautiful Plymouth Sound
In many European countries boats have to be fitted with holding tanks to collect waste which is then pumped out at special facilities. In Britain it is not a requirement in older boats, although it is recommended. All new boats built since 1996 have to have holding tanks. We do have a separating/composting toilet on Tarquilla but it is more suited to anchoring. Once alongside we use the marina facilities (when we can). We don't have a washing machine or shower on board which reduces our grey water. Our kitchen sink does however, drain straight into the water and it certainly forces you to consider what goes down it.

Toilet facilities and black water are big issues for sailors. Living on the water gives you a connection which makes it hard to not want to look after the world you are in. Knowing that the waste being released from your home is going straight into the water you are living in makes you think. When water is locked (behind lock gates – St Malo, Bristol or St Nazaire for example), trapped by a sill (Carteret) or there is very little tide (nowhere we have been yet!) boats using sea toilets can be a real problem. The introduction of holding tanks in all vessels and the rise in use of composting or separating toilets is making a difference to the health of our oceans. The building of good facilities in marinas is also part of this vital work improving the water for everyone who uses it.


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